RSUOE: Grappling With University Status

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The Rivers State Univer

            sity of Education, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt is one of the nation’s first specialised university in the area of education. The university which was established in the early 70s as Advanced Teachers Training College, Port Harcourt was later upgraded to a College of Education and affiliated to the University of Ibadan.

Today, with the passage of an enabling law by the Rivers State House of Assembly, Port Harcourt, the former college of Education has transformed into a full fledged University of Education.

The transformation of the hitherto College of Education to a University has brought many issues to the fore: the issues of accreditation of its courses and programmes, structures, finances and students enrolment. Some people have alleged that there had been rows between the new University and the University of Ibadan over unpaid bills.

However, the Rivers State University of Education has been established as a legal entity and would remain so until the law was revoked. But that may not be.

Speaking with The Weekend Tide, Miss Ijeoma Egumegu, a student at Faculty of Humanities of the University, said that the university has come to stay and there was no going back to its former status.

She said that the standard was high at the institution and noted that the school would continue to maintain its high standard, despite teething problems.

Miss Egumegu opined that most of the courses had been given full accreditation by the National University Commission, (NUC).

According to her, “I prefer the autonomy we have now to the time the school was affiliated to the University of Ibadan. Each time the University of Ibadan visitation team visited RSCOE then, the management team would catch fever. It is interesting to know that we are autonomous. You see, the institution has quality academic and non academic staff that is why most of the courses were accredited. Besides, the structures we have at Rumuolumeni are enough for now.”

She gave kudors to Prof. Rosemond Green Osahogulu for her pioneering skills as the vice chancellor of the state University of Education.

She described her as a visionary leader who was ready to take the institution to greater heights, and noted that the vc was a quintessential and virtuous woman.   

The student remarked that Prof. R. D. Green Osahogulu would continue to do well as an administrator because she was carrying everybody along.

Miss Egumegu said the students’ enrolment was high and pointed out that one thing that made RSCOE as it were, different from other institutions of higher learning was its reluctance to go on strike, no matter the circumstance.

Miss Egumegu, who is a third year French student, said they had a good language laboratory at the faculty and explained that a French graduate from the university could compete with his contemporaries any-where in the world.

Besides, the students have good learning materials “that is why we are doing well academically.”

Also speaking, Mrs. Anana Christian Oyo, an alumnus of the institution, said it was interesting to know our dear College of Education has transformed into a university.”

Mrs. Oyo described the transformation as worthwhile and heartwarming. The alumnus said the university would go places with the calibre of lecturers it has.

She also praised the vc of the university for her leadership qualities and urged her to continue to do her best for the institution, and added that said she would continue to relish her days at the institution because of the quality of education she had.

According to her, “the transformation of COE to a full-fledged university is remarkable and I believe that it was born out of the contributions of the institution to the society. COE was not just a teachers training college. It was more that.

In Rivers and Bayelsa States, it has not only trained teachers; it has trained people in all walks of life. Many politicians in both states were trained in COE. Honestly, I savour  the elevation of the institution to a university.”

Another person who spoke with The Weekend Tide, Edward Isaiah, a staff of Risonpalm Nucleus Estate, Ubima,said he was happy with the elevation of COE to a full fledged university but noted that he was praying that government should live to its billings.

He said it was not enough for an institution to be so described or elevated but government must translate words into action.

According to him, “what this means is that the state has about five institutions of higher learning. The university status is quite commendable but the enabling environment must be there for it to succeed.”

Mr. Isaiah wondered why there should be a separate university for education when faculties of education abound in all universities in Nigeria.

He said colleges of education were borne out of the dire need for teachers as it were. Mr. Isiah explained that teachers were no longer in short supply today and wondered why teachers should have a specialised university.

Mr. Isaiah who is an alumnus of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, regretted that the preponderance of teachers produced for the college were yet to gain employment and pointed out that the establishment of university of education would lead to the glut of teachers in the labour market.

He said that technology was the (in-thing) vogue in contemporary world and the attention should have been given to the area of science and technology in order to develop our nation.

Isiah who trained as an agriculturist at RSUST, however, praised government for the establishment of the premier education university and hoped that the Senate and the governing council of the university would champion the entrenchment of virile and standard university.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that the university succeeds. “He noted that teachers were essential facilitators of development. He pointed out that no nation would grow above its teachers.” Mr. Isiah stated the quality of teachers produced in a country would determine the direction the nation goes.

Also speaking, Friday Ogbugo, an alumnus of College of Education, Port Harcourt, said that the elevation of the institution to a university was long overdue. He said that he was optimistic that the institution would continue to maintain high standard.

The teacher, who resides in Port Harcourt, noted that the products of RSCOE had performed well in different spheres of life and pointed out that the elevation of the college was not misplaced.

Mr. Ogbugo, who studied Economics Education, said the college had produced quality teachers and remarked it was important for the culture to continue.

He said for the institution to sustain its high standard there must be a deliberate effort on the part of the academic staff to check examination malpractice.

The teacher regretted that examination malpractice was a cankerworm and prayed the Senate and the governing council of the institution to nip it in the bud.

Mr. Ogbugo stated that he reposed confidence in the VC’s ability to move the university forward. According to him, “the present V.C would do well because she has become part and parcel of the institution. She trained in the college, lectured in the school and today she is heading the institution,” he stated.

Also speaking, Mr. Isaiah Dioku, a journalist based in Port Harcourt, said the elevation of College of Education to a university was good.

Mr. Dioku remarked that it would lead to the production of quality teachers and it will stop the (expenses) money that is wasted on affiliation to Ibadan.

He described UoE and the relationship between the University of Ibadan as parasitic and noted the elevation would prevent the wastage of resources.

The journalist noted the elevation of the college to university had among other things created employment opportunities for Rivers indigenes both as academic and non-academic staff.

He pointed out that the elevation had put an end to the discrimination against them as a college and would inspire greater student’s enrolment.

Mr. Dioku said that there were a lot of facilities on ground and noted that the university would do well because of the calibre of the Vice Chancellor.

According to him, “Prof. Osofogulu is a hard working woman. She knows the university in and out and is in the best person to move the institution forward.”

The journalist remarked that the university status was a welcome development and urged the teachers, the senate and governing council to brace up for the challenges of the new status.

He implored River people and the government of Rivers State to provide an enabling environment for the success of the university.

Mr. Dioku said it had been proved that Rivers people were very innovative but what was still in doubt was their ability to effect their vision.

He warned that the institution should not be allowed to go the way of Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt.

He noted that the incidence of examination malpractice was already high in the institution and urged the Senate to do something urgently to address the trend.

Mr. Dioku said both teachers (lecturers) and students were partners in crime in aiding and abecting examination malpractice.

The journalist said ‘sorting’ should be discouraged because of its effect on both the students and the society at large.

Another person, who spoke with The Weekend Tide, Mr. Amos Onwuka Edison, the President of National Coalition of Niger Delta Graduates for Non-Violence, said it was a welcome development to both the state and the nation at large.

He explained that it would create opportunities for admission as well as employment for the youths.

Mr. Onwuka remarked that the University must endeavour to produce quality teachers, who would contribute to the transformation of the society.

Also speaking, the Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Education, Prof. Rosemond Green Osahogulu said the University was ready for the challenges ahead.

Prof. Osofogulu said that the University had received 100% accreditation in 2008 and explained out of the 26 courses offered in the University, 23 had received full accreditation by the National University Commission (NUC), while three had partial accreditation.

She said it would take five years for another accreditation for those with full accreditation, while those with partial accreditation would be accredited in two years time.

The VC said by the end of this month (July) the academic brief would be ready and noted the licence would be ready as well.

According to her, “we have enough lecturers. We have employed 200 lecturers. Education Trust Fund offers academic staff development fund and we have told the lecturers that any one ready should apply and get admitted so the University of Education funds their training.”

On the facilities on ground for the take off, she said that they were ready and very soon the institution’s master-plan would be out.

She said the University was focusing on bringing solid teachers for our schools.

On the challenges, she said because of the enormous fund required to run a University, funds were hardly enough but pointed out that the school was moving forward with the little at its disposal.

She dismissed the rumours that there was a row between the University of Ibadan and RSUOE over unpaid affiliation bills.

The VC explained that when she came on board in 2008, she had to pay N83m owed to the University of Ibadan.

She noted that RSCOE  was no longer indebted to Ibadan.

The VC, however, stated the problem between the two institutions was purely academic over standards.

She explained that RSCOE opened remedial programme for students, who did not meet Joint Admission Matriculating Board (JAMB) cut-off point but had University requirements (five credits).

Over the years, she said RSCOE started accepting four credits, which was the cause of disagreements between the two institutions.

On whether the University would run non-education courses, she noted that they were focusing on only education courses. “We want to put ourselves among the world class Universities,” she stated.

“We want to be like the Colombian university of Education”, she further stated.

The VC noted that the institution was tightening up on examination malpractice and urged all to continue to support the university.

 

Chidi Enyie